The Rev. Warren McCarthy helped shape the growth of Schaumburg's first Catholic church, St. Marcelline, leading the congregation as its second pastor from 1976 to 1997. He died Sunday at the age of 86.
"He was a visionary," said longtime parishioner June Bessette of Schaumburg. "He saw the needs of the parish and forged ahead, doing whatever needed to be done."
McCarthy was ordained in 1952, and his first assignment was as assistant superintendent of Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, a position he held for five years before moving on to teach at Quigley Seminary in Chicago and later at Niles College Seminary in Mundelein.
His first pastoral assignment came as an assistant pastor at St. Zachary Parish in Des Plaines before he left for St. Marcelline and his first pastorate.
St. Marcelline's founding pastor, the Rev. Charles Diemer, carved the parish out of surrounding farmlands, holding Masses for two years at Robert Frost Junior High School and religious education classes at Campanelli Elementary School, both in Schaumburg, until a new church could be built.
By the time McCarthy arrived eight years after the new church was finished, the facilities already were too small for the 2,500 families.
In 1981, he built the Family Life Center on the back of the church, with meeting and activity rooms to help accommodate the parish's large religious education program for children.
When he arrived, there were 1,700 students enrolled in classes and nearly 140 catechists.
"We held classes at night and on Saturdays and Sundays, just to meet the demand," Bessette said. "Father Warren spearheaded it; he led the training for the teachers."
Beyond the physical needs of the church campus, McCarthy also sought to meet parishioners' spiritual needs.
The Rev. Hal Stanger, current pastor, said McCarthy was instrumental in developing the church as a "stewardship parish."
"It was a call to discipleship," Stanger said, "about devoting your time, talent and treasure to the needs of the parish so it could grow."
Bessette added that McCarthy became a strong advocate for stewardship once he discovered that the weekly bingo night was taking in more money than the weekly collection.
"He helped many of us examine the way we were living," Bessette said. "His call for stewardship really touched us."
Mary Kramer, religious education director, pointed to the complete remodeling of the interior of St. Marcelline in 1997 as McCarthy's crowing achievement.
He moved the altar into the middle of the worship space, consequently bringing congregants closer. He added new imagery as well as a gathering space at the entrance and a ramp to make the church handicapped accessible.
"He wanted to make the church more inviting," Kramer said, "and make it accessible for all people to enter."
McCarthy retired soon after the renovations were completed, then served on the Priests' Senate and as an archdiocesan adviser.
Visitation will begin at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, followed by the funeral Mass at 7:30 p.m., celebrated by the Rev. Ronald Lewinski, pastor of St. Mary of the Annunciation in Mundelein. Both are at St. Marcelline Catholic Church, 822 S. Springinsguth Road.